L. Breen best stories are loving recreations of Van Dine and Ellery
Queen. Breen is remarkably good at conveying the "feel" of
these authors - although it is a parody, "The Lithuanian Eraser
Mystery" (EQMM March 1969 and EQ's Eyes of Mystery,
1971) recaptures all of the excitement of reading the stories
themselves. During the theater season of 1968 E. Larry Cune returns to
New York's Greek Theater, scene of the prior triumph when he solved the
murder of the asthmatic Mr.Anagopolous -- a case known as "The Greek
Coughin' Mystery" E.Larry's companion is Nora Redcap, and we are also
introduced to Inspector Cune and Sergeant Healey.
Breen did this once over in "C.I.A. Cune's Investigatory Archives. PLAGARISM DEPARTEMENT: The Idea Man" (The Queen Canon Bibliophile Volume 1 Nr.4 1969) and twice in EQMM "The Swedish Boot Mystery" (EQMM Nov 1973) and "The Adventure of the Disorientated Detective" (EQMM Sep 1976) all with variations on the "dying message".
"Open Letter to Survivors" by Francis M.Nevins (EQMM, N°342, May 1972) starts off with a line from Ten Days' Wonder (Chapter 10) : "... There was the case of Adelina Monquieux, his remarkable solution of which cannot be revealed before 1972 by agreement with that curious lady's executors..." Nevins takes it from here in this 1972 story about a unnamed "big whodunit writer who's cleaned up umpteen cases for the New York force" who came to Adelina Monquieux's home. Adelina's will stipulates that her three identical looking sons Xavier, Yves & Zachary will get half a million dollars plus the income from another half a million in a trust. Her niece Marie get a few hundred thousands. The remaining twenty millions will go to charity and of course Adelina gets murdered! The name of the sleuth is never mentioned but is obvious.
Nils Hardin publisher and editor of the fanzine Xenophile published a special Ellery Queen-edition in June 1975. In it he tried his hand at a mystery story "The Ghana Word Mystery" by L.Ray Quaine, surely a word play since, aside from the title and two unreadable lines, two blank pages appeared...
"Whodunit?" (1976) (Jean Paul Satire aka Peter David & Myra "Emjay" Kasman) is a parody and crossover between Star Trek (the original series) and Hutton's Ellery Queen. In the TV show of Ellery Queen, starring Jim Hutton. James T. Kirk is found murdered (burnt to death by a phaser and margarine!) in his quarters, leaving only the dying message Uhu and Ellery, inspector Queen and Velie have to find the murderer among the crew of the USS Enterprise! The setting is bizarre, but it is definitely written as an "episode" of the Ellery Queen TV show, complete with the story beginning with several dialogue cuts featuring all the suspects and a Challenge to the "Viewer" (?)! Near the end, the story becomes more relient on Star Trek-fandomania Entertaining but weird. (Ho-Ling Wong)
Marty Pasko wrote the script for a 12 page Batman-comic story called "A Clue Before Dying" (Detective Comics N°. 459 - May 1976). Batman tries to find the man who killed mystery writer Elliot Quinn, and who may be the same man who killed an architect in Quinn's home years ago. Not only an homage to Queen but in the story also "a" Lt. Dannay appeared!
Again we take a sidestep into the realm of
pop music. A little
more known than our previous examples is the 1977 Tavares hit single "Whodunit"
written by K.St.Louis and F.Perren:
"... She went dancin' in the dark, somebody stole her heart
Ellery Queen if you're so keen
Won't you help me find my sweet thing (Yeah, yeah)..."
What would happen if
Maigret, Ellery Queen
and Hercule Poirot met in Tokyo?
Their rich host certainly seems to know. Solely for his
pleasure to see his favorite detectives at work. One other old Japanese
detective is present: Kogoro Akechi, the hero in
the books of Edogawa Rampo.
When researching his 1981 The Great Detectives Julian Symons not only had the privilege of meeting Fred in Larchmont. He was able to put forward an interesting theory that there were in fact two Ellery's -- the earlier one with the pince-nez and the later one post-Halfway House. He even constructed an interesting theory that the earlier Ellery was, in fact, Ellery's younger brother "Dan". Fred thought the theory was "inventive" but stated that Julian underestimated the way people change and even went as far as saying the theory was unconvincing. Julian included a pastiche "Dan and the Fair Sabrina" a story about a missing statuette called "Sabrina".
t's September 1982 when we see "The
Adventure of the
Michio Tsuzuki 's "Jiraiya in Ginza" (1982) is set in 1936 when Ellery visits Japan. When sightseeing in Ginza (Tokyo), “surprisingly”, a murder takes place. Not only was the victim's back tattooed with a picture of Jiraiya (a fictional thief and wizard) but he also left a dying message… (Michio Tsuzuki is the first editor-in-chief of the Japanese EQMM)
Truly a pity that some of these stories are as good as unobtainable... Jon Breen describes "The Persian Fez Mystery" or "The Tragedy of Q" by Joe R. Christopher (1983) as one of the cleverest send-ups of the Queen style. Found in 30 copy(!) chapbook Queen's Books Investigated or Queen is in the Accounting House it reveals that Elroy Queep "..only in his novels solved the cases before the police, in real life his suggestions were always wrong..."
The admiration for the Ellery Queen works in Japan is
unsurpassed. No small wonder several examples are found in this section. In
Yuki Misshitsu, Snow Locked Room, (1989)
by Rintaro Norizuki,
police superintendant Norizuki Sadao is invited by, as it turns out, a
female blackmailer to her guesthouse in the middle of winter. She's found
hanged in a separate building on the premises. Local police treat it as an
apparent suicide since the snow is trackless and the only key is inside the
building itself. Convinced of foul play Sadao calls in the help of his son
Rintarou Norizuki (same name as author!). There also a Norizuki volume called The
Adventures of Norizuki Rintarou.... More an homage than pastiche, but
Snow Locked Room)
The 70th anniversary edition of EQMM
had two pastiches . Edward D.Hoch's
"The Circle of Ink" (EQMM, Sep
1999) placed Ellery and his married father (to Jesse
Sherwood) in a University where a
murderer left an ink
circle on the hands of his victims. Jon L.Breen's "The Gilbert and
Sullivan Clue" lets Ellery deal with Y2K. (Click
on Podcast icon to enjoy!...)
"The Japanese Armor Mystery" (日本木製鎧甲之謎 ,2005) by Ma Tian a Chinese New Orthodox story in which Queen has to find the answer to a few seemingly simple questions: Why was there a man dressed in a complete Japanese war armor in the garden? Why would one murder a elderly sick man who was going to die soon anyway?
Japanese Kazuo Miyamoto made his writing debut using the pen name Kaoru Kitamura. He is considered a pioneer of the "everyday mystery". Initially, because the unnamed first-person protagonist of his early works was a female college student, and the name Kaoru is gender ambiguous, it was widely speculated that Kitamura was female. This speculation persisted until he revealed his identity upon accepting the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1991. In itself a tribute to EQ. He didn't leave it at that... in 2005 he published a full fledged pastiche called The Japanese Nickel Mystery. Ellery Queen visits Japan at the invitation of a publisher and mystery writer, and gets sidetracked by infant killing incidents in Tokyo. The story includes a man who could change a thousand-yen bill into twenty coins of fifty yen and has our detective pointing out a relationship with a previous case.